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Friday, May 17, 2013

Guest Post: Life ‘at’ and Escape ‘from’ Paroxetine Island

The hell of Aropax withdrawal

Following on from Part I [Like a Lamb to the Slaughter] of Mark's trilogy of guest posts.

This post sees Mark describe the frustrations and hardships of withdrawing from GlaxoSmithKline's Aropax, known in the UK as Seroxat and in the US and Canada as Paxil.

Life ‘at’ and Escape ‘from’ Paroxetine Island [PI]

Life at Paroxetine Island(PI) can only really  be described in hindsight and with insight once one has spent time back on the mainland and drug-free. Here are some observations:

  • On arrival at PI one has all motivation, passion, spontaneity and confidence taken away and one is given yawning, fatigue and indecisiveness 24/7 in exchange.
  • On my 1st night at PI I experienced the most real, horrific and terrifying dream of my life. It involved my death. At the time I was clueless as to what caused this.
  • Like creeping mold is to the internal walls of a house in winter so too was paroxetine to my brain. It was a slow, insidious takeover of not just my brain but also my soul. Dulling my emotions and senses, and even when the wallpaper started falling off I was clueless as to the cause.
  • My quality of life grew worse and worse, as I became more and more removed from reality.
  • Life was sucked out of me and I was no longer living I was simply existing.
  • I became a loner and yet I wasn't lonely.
  • Much time and effort was spent fighting back evil intrusive thoughts, thoughts that did not belong to me, thoughts that were extraordinarily immoral, offensive and almost audible in my mind beckoning me towards self-destructive behaviour. Thoughts that were demonic in nature.
  • Personality and behavioural changes occur on PI perhaps best described as a severing of the conscience.
  • Loss of feelings and caring occurred, a total disconnect from reality. The mantra of PI was:
  •  ‘So what, who cares’! And I was soon singing it.
  • An early attempt to break free and swim to the mainland resulted in such psychological, emotional horror and panic I rushed back to my doctor and asked to go back to PI. I was sent back no questions asked. 
  • Despite promising to never swim away again several more failed attempts to escape left me in a state of learned helplessness, a massive major paradigm shift now occurred in my being. I now believed that I needed to be on Paroxetine Island!
  • One day I learned of a person who had escaped from PI and swum back to the mainland. I became very envious, jealous even!
  • I was now determined that I too would get back to the mainland. Little did I know that I was about to start a 3-year traumatizing nightmare, a journey through ‘Hell,’ that was going to require every ounce of strength to survive, fighting for my life, daily. 

My Escape from Paroxetine Island (PI)

I would like to start by just saying that my escape from PI was the most difficult thing I've ever done in my life. No non-poisoned-by-an-SSRI-brain can conceive, imagine, or understand the traumatising nature of this ordeal.

  • I presented to my doctor in January 10, after 10 years use, wanting to get off paroxetine. His reply “okay come off slowly”, and sent me on my way. (Absolutely criminal!)
  • I had no idea what slowly was. But decided to start to alternate doses 20 mg one day and 10 mg the next.
  • After 6 months I was on 10 mg and in a distraught state.
  • The distress drove me to seek counselling, yet it offered no relief. Except lighten my wallet.
  • At 9 months and on 5 mg feeling death would be a welcome relief I reluctantly presented to my Doctor (Dr W), only to be told I had an underlying depression and I needed to up dose. At this point I realised Dr W was clueless. I replied, ‘that is not right’. He referred me to a psychiatrist Dr S.B.
  • Confused, distraught, frustrated, and in a very dark place, somehow knowing deep down something was not right here but what could it be, I confided in the neighbouring pharmacist. He leaned over and quietly whispered, “Mark I’m not supposed to tell you this but it’s not you it’s the drug”.
  • It was like a light switch was flicked, the light bulb went on, I came to my senses. Of course it’s not me, it’s the drug! It was the damn drug! How could I have been so stupid! Words cannot describe the humiliation that started to flood my being followed by anger and disbelief.
  • I immediately started digging, and stumbled upon an SSRI addict’s and survivors support group. I realised I had found a place ‘sought by millions but found by few’. I owe my life to them.
  • On asking the psychiatrist Dr S.B. if he was aware of any problems with people getting off Paroxetine  he replied, “Well if there were problems with people getting off paroxetine people would be suing the drug companies” [I was later to realize this was a Dr who clearly had his initials around the wrong way].
  • He also okay’d a Healtheries supplement I wanted to take to try to get some relief. I was sent on my way. I now realised I was on my own.
  • I broke free of PI on 28 September 2010.
  • The 9 month taper down and the next 2 years drug free was hell. The nightmare I had to suffer (believe me to call it a nightmare is an understatement) coming off this drug had nothing to do with me and everything to do with this drug!
  • I wouldn't want my worst enemy to go through this. I was unable to function experiencing daily uncontrollable restless anxiety, endless crying and drug induced suicidal ideations starting from 6 a.m. lasting throughout the day and receding somewhat in the evening. I felt as if I was being psychologically and emotionally raped daily. This withdrawal horror went on for almost 3 years, with the drug induced withdrawal hell pushing me for months to cut my wrists, then for months it tried to get me to hang myself, then it wanted me to shoot myself, and if that wasn't enough drive my car into oncoming traffic. I still remember the day I fought off an overwhelming desire to jump off a bridge.
  • These drugs are not given to patients under 18 because they cause suicide …well if my experience is anything to go by they should extend the relabeling ban to those under 50!
  • In order to get through this hell alive I dragged several family members so far into emotional overdraft I will never be able to repay them. You can forget being able to hold down a job during this ordeal it’s a battle to just survive each day.
  • I so much wanted to reinstate to take the horror away, yet I was driven by a sense of unbelievable anger and humiliation to not do so. Often chanting back ‘it’s not me it’s the drug’ when waves of hell flooded me.
  • All I wanted was an opinion on my sore arm, I never consented to this.
  • At about 18 months drug free I felt the shark infested waters start to recede, a few months later I washed ashore onto the mainland, exhausted, traumatized and in total disbelief that I was still alive.
  • I felt like Rip Van Winkle coming to after being placed in a living coma becoming acutely aware of the damage done to me, waking up in shock and disbelief.
  • Let there be no mistake about it, if I was an enemy combatant and the NZ army did this to me, someone would have been dragged to the Hague and jailed for this! 
  • Hippocratic Oath…..Yeah Right!
  • I was determined to get an explanation for this insult to my humanity an answer for something no human should have to endure.

Mark Carter NZ

Coming soon Part III

Bob Fiddaman